The Hong Kong Police are to make full use of Cultural Revolution-era provisions of the Public Order Ordinance in order to deal with ‘suspicious’ gatherings of three or more people. ‘Suspicious’ presumably means ‘expressing dissatisfaction with the quality of governance’.
Since the Occupy-Umbrella movement began last year, the HKP have clearly been psyched-up to see and treat anti-government protestors as the enemy (compare with the relaxed, almost-friendly policing style at demonstrations in years past). This is due to pressure from above, not just in the Hong Kong government but from Beijing officials. The logic is that protestors are the cause of troubles and problems, not a reaction to them. No doubt this new police approach will be a great success, and we will see a significant increase in social harmony now.
But wait! More and new opposition to parallel traders suddenly appears. One Thierry Stern of tacky luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe complains about them as he bemoans the pressures forcing various designer brands to cut prices. Unlike with groceries, airline tickets and other commodities, the concept of ‘price cuts’ is toxic to the whole image and concept of luxury goods. A certain type of sucker craves these tawdry baubles because he or she believes other people who can’t afford them will envy them (it goes back to evolutionary psychology – attracting mates). Put a ‘20% off’ sign on these glitzy goods, and you ruin the whole thing. Today’s Standard even has an editorial trying to come to terms with cut-price Chanel bags.
The decline of the Euro and China’s anti-corruption clampdown are factors. But so, as Monsieur Thierry indicates, is the dreaded parallel trader. What he can’t bring himself to say is that the luxury brands have a very geographical pricing policy. In places where consumers are really dumb, desperate newbies, the French and Italian purveyors of overpriced crap ramp the prices right up. In places where people are mature and sensible and less gullible (and earning a collapsing disaster-currency), you adjust this component of the ‘shopping experience’ accordingly. Parallel traders expose how overpriced the overpriced crap is, damaging not simply profit margins but the whole illusion of value and desirability. Quel dommage.
I declare the weekend open with the thought that if Thierry is joined by his counterparts from Chanel and (say) Louis Vuitton to moan about this issue as a trio, we will have a high-end Public Order Ordinance breach on our hands.